The college admissions process can be challenging and sometimes leaves families feeling defeated before even starting. That's why more families are paying for college advising for their teens. But why does no one talk about the costs or whether it's worth the investment?
Let's face it, the college application process is complex, and as parents, you want to give your teen the best chance they have at attending their dream college. What makes the situation more intimidating is that you're not the only parent that wishes for this outcome. Thousands of parents seek ways to support their teens as they embark on a journey toward higher education.
As more families branch out of traditional approaches to college application prep, at one point or another, parents ponder the question: should we hire a college counselor, and how much does it cost? Although college counseling can range between $2,000 - $20,000, this blog will help parents determine whether this is an investment worth making and what they can expect.
What is a College Counselor?
Before diving into the cost of things, it's important to distinguish the difference between college counselors your family could work with. Traditionally, a student could work with three types of counselors: a school counselor, an independent education counselor (IEC), and a college counselor.
|Counselor Type||School Counselor||Independent Counselor||College Counselor|
|Key Differences||Typically provided to students in high school.||Usually self-employed individuals or engage in contract work with consultancies.||Counselors that work for an organization full-time or part-time (think Collegewise!).|
|Cost||Free||IECs set their own prices and can be cheaper than a college counselor.||Generally the most expensive option, but can be similar in price to IEC depending on the services.|
While there are key differences between the three, each one supports and guides students in building successful college applications.
For more information on the differences between each counselor, what support you can expect, and how to find the best fit for you, read our blog: School Counselor vs. Independent Counselor vs. College Counselor: What's the Difference?
What are College Counseling Costs & Services?
Determining college counseling costs starts with breaking down the services in this particular investment. No matter where your teen is on their journey to college, it's no secret that the college application process has many layers and requires proper planning and preparation.
A few things to remember before we dive into what you can expect when working with a college counselor:
- Every consultancy is different, and price points may vary. Always be sure to check out a company's Services page for more information.
- Some companies charge hourly or have set packages, while others are subject to change with additional services available as add-ons. Collegewise maintains a personalized package model because no two students are alike, and every unique need deserves a unique approach.
For families looking to receive application support, including:
- Regular progress reports, check-in meetings, and project management
- College research and academic support
- Essay brainstorming and feedback
- ACT/SAT test preparation and AP tutoring
- Extracurricular guidance and full application strategy
Services such as these can have a starting price of $2,000-$4,000.
Now let's say you're a family that thinks, "go big or go home," and have a teen interested in an Ivy League school or requires more comprehensive support in building an application. These programs may include:
- Extracurricular enhancement and resume-building opportunities
- More frequent check-ins during those crucial deadlines
- College interview coaching and preparation
- Detailed essay review and feedback
- Increased hourly tutoring for academic courses
- financial aid support
Services such as these can have a starting price of $8,000-$10,000.
Is College Counseling Worth the Price?
Truth be told, it depends. Yes, many students work with a school counselor, do exceedingly well, and end up accepted to their dream college. However, dozens of students also require extra attention and personalized support that may not be offered by a counselor who works with 20+ students at a time.
Overall, the responsibility of a college counselor is to ensure that students are putting their best foot forward and receiving the support they need to build applications that truly highlight their capabilities and accomplishments. But, more importantly, and beyond promised services, college counselors (at least, Collegewise ones) help students:
Choose the right college and major
Good counselors guide students to college. Great counselors guide students to a college where they'll thrive. Choosing the right college and major takes trial and error, and working with a college expert to solidify a list of potential schools can make this process less time-consuming and far more rewarding. Students will learn about colleges they'd never considered and programs that offer a place to explore passions and interests.
Apply strategically & secure financial aid
If you think the college application process is complex, wait until you navigate financial aid. One of the most rewarding aspects of working with a college counselor is being paired with a financial aid consultant who helps families fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and guides them in applying for and securing scholarships and financial aid opportunities.
Last year, Collegewise students reported receiving an average financial aid package of $72,000! We're no mathematicians, but it sounds like a good return on investment (ROI) if you ask us.
Manage essay requirements
A vital component of the application process is essay writing. Alongside their transcripts, students applying through the Common App are expected to write one personal statement essay and additional supplemental essays for every college they apply to. Again, we're no mathematicians, but students applying to multiple colleges can be writing upwards of a dozen essays. Having a college counselor and essay review team who can help with brainstorming, finetuning, and editing and take the pressure off students who are writing multiple essays or might find writing college-level essays a challenge.
Enjoy the last two years of high school with their parents.
Parents only have a limited time before their teen flies the coop, heads to college, and becomes a full-blown working adult. The last thing parents should spend doing is acting as a project manager for their child. Instead, working with a college counselor can relieve parents of those responsibilities and allow families to get back the quality time they won't have again.
Questions to Ask College Counselors Before Hiring
If you've reached this point in the blog, you must be confident that you want to work with a college counselor. Perhaps you've even chatted with a few different consultancies and are at a crossroads between whom to choose. One way to speed up the process is by asking smart questions that evaluate a counselor's expertise beyond the services they offer. Because let's be honest, most consultancies provide the same services.
If you're looking to hire a college counselor or counseling service, consider asking them the following questions:
- What type of student do you enjoy working with? (Pro tip: don't hire someone who says they hate kids.)
- What would be some reasonable expectations from us if we were to work with you?
- Do you engage in professional development?
Is College Counseling for You?
There are plenty of benefits to working with a college counselor, and although we've listed a few here, it's important to ask yourself the big questions before making the grand investment.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- What help do you already have available to you?
- What additional help does your family need?
- What is your/your child's measure of success? Both in college and in hiring someone
- What does your student want?
As with any big purchase, be sure to research, ask the right questions, and shop around to see who is the right fit for you.
About Us: With more than twenty years of experience, Collegewise counselors and tutors are at the forefront of the ever-evolving admissions landscape. Our work has always centered on you: the family. And just like we’ve always done, we look for ways for your student to be their best self - whether in the classroom, the applications, or in the right-fit college environment. Our range of counseling, test prep, academic tutoring, and essay management, all with the support of our proprietary platform, lead to 4x higher than average admissions rates.
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